White­baiters on move due to Kaituna road clo­sure

Te Puke Times - - NEWS -

White­baiters who nor­mally head to the lower Kaituna River are be­ing asked to look for new spots to fish.

While lo­cal fish­er­men have set­tled in to new places for boat launch­ing and sur­f­cast­ing since the tem­po­rary clo­sure of Ford Rd took ef­fect on Au­gust 1, re­gional coun­cil staff are en­cour­ag­ing white­bait fish­ers to also look for new op­tions now the white­bait sea­son is open.

“We’ve tried to let as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble know about the road clo­sure, but it may still come as a sur­prise for some white­baiters that haven’t vis­ited since last year,” says Kaituna catch­ments man­ager Pim de Monchy.

Ac­cess to the lower Kaituna River via Ford Rd is closed un­til De­cem­ber 20, due to Kaituna River re-di­ver­sion con­struc­tion works.

Ac­cess to Ford’s Cut and the stop­banks on ei­ther side of the cut will re­main closed un­til the con­struc­tion project is com­pleted in June 2020. The Bell Rd boat ramp re­mains open for peo­ple to launch onto the Kaituna River.

“Changes to flows through Ford’s Cut will make it less suit­able for white­bait dur­ing the con­struc­tion pe­riod, so fish num­bers will be low there any­way,” says Pim.

“The re-di­ver­sion project will im­prove fish habi­tat and the health of Te Awa o Nga­toroirangi Maketu¯ Es­tu­ary in the long term. In the short term, white­baiters will need to try some new fish­ing spots nearby.

“The lower ends of the Kaikokopu, Pon­gakawa and Wharere Streams can all be ac­cessed via public roads, as can the Maketu¯ and Waihı¯ Es­tu­ary en­trances.

“If peo­ple are pre­pared to walk, they can also get to the Kaituna River through the Lower Kaituna Wildlife Man­age­ment Re­serve on Pah Rd.”

Pim also says the par­tial restora­tion of fresh­wa­ter flows from the Kaituna River into Maketu¯ Es­tu­ary is just one of the many projects un­der­way that will ben­e­fit white­baiters over time.

“White­bait species spend most of their lives in fresh­wa­ter rivers and streams. We’re work­ing with landown­ers to iden­tify and re­duce run-off sources, re­store wet­lands, plant stream mar­gins, and take other steps to re­store wa­ter qual­ity and fish habi­tat that has been de­graded through his­toric land use change.

“In the past year we’ve de­liv­ered 22 ri­par­ian im­prove­ment projects in the Kaituna Pon­gakawa catch­ments; pro­tect­ing 33km of wa­ter­ways in part­ner­ship with landown­ers.

“Those projects have in­cluded work to im­prove the spawn­ing and rear­ing habi­tat of inanga which is the main species in white­bait catches here.”

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